Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Editor Edited My Work!

There's an interesting discussion going on over at the Chronicle of Higher Education (a good place to look for writing and editing jobs at colleges, BTW). A professor writes to the forum for a little sympathy on having had an article edited beyond recognition. The range of responses (from "thank her!" to something akin to "my editor sucked!") is fun to see.

This is an age-old problem. Most people don't like to be edited, especially if they feel the edits have changed their meaning or made them look bad. Their writing is supposed to speak for them; if it misrepresents them, it's a huge emotional issue. Even I have felt myself wincing when I've reviewed someone's edits to my writing (but I generally keep my mouth shut because I know all too well how it feels to have an author argue with me over edits).

On the other hand, I have encountered plenty of authors who are grateful for their editors. The good ones will thank you for making them look good.


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I've found that I can edit heavily (when it's necessary) and still not have the author hate me or stet 90% of my edits if I do these things:

1. Respect the author's voice

2. Word my queries to the author so that it's clear that I respect the author's work and intelligence

3. Include a few queries that aren't questions but are bits of praise for lyrical narrative, witty dialogue, excellent character exposition, a nonfiction passage that teaches me something I'd not known ... whatever there is that is legitimately praiseworthy. This lets the author know that I'm on his or her side.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Great point! I think doing these things to get the author to like and respect your work can set the tone for the entire project. If you make them angry upfront, they'll start rejecting edits that they might have been OK with otherwise.

Meryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meryl said...

I have to be careful when I edit the works of others who aren't full-time writers -- but rather experts in something. They have a harder time seeing their work edited than writers -- at least that's my experience.

What we try to do is explain why we edited something the way we did. We also turn off tracking whenever doing formatting since that's not affecting content -- just the look.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Yes, great point. I always leave tracking off when I do formatting. Otherwise it looks messier than it really is. Most authors seem overwhelmed by a chapter full of tracked changes, so I show them how hide the markup if that's easier for them.

Writer said...

Thanks for post
I think when you are editing the work of others than you have to be very careful. You have to think from his point of view also and then go for edit. Editing is not a bad thing when it is required. It is a way to show anyone better than before.